Manual being depricated in favour of automatic? Never! - I can only think of one person with an automatic and again that was due to disability. In fact I have only driven one automatic and that was a new Saab about 4 months ago - in a staright line fine, but no blooming use for corning without being able to drop gears manually (guess in america it is all huge sweeping corners!).
I'm always have the left/right argument since my partner is Czech - and I will be experiencing more of it since I am moving to Prague in 2 weeks. It is true I have no real issue with either side of the road, but I still find more control by having the right arm in control of the wheel.
As said before Cambridge is a doddle to drive - get out into some of the country roads, especially those in Derbyshire or Wales and then you really will learn the width of your car! Oh yeah and why having manually is far far better!